Gosh, America. There really is a reason to have clean air and water regulations, and actually enforce them. Weeks after Freedom Industries poured chemicals into West Virginians' drinking water, traces of formaldehyde and other chemicals remain.
The "flushing" recommended by the Tomblin administration and West Virginia American Water may not have effectively eliminated "Crude MCHM" and other toxic chemicals from plumbing systems at homes and businesses, experts are warning.
MCHM from the Jan. 9 leak at Freedom Industries may be stuck inside pipes and hot water tanks, and experts are concerned that the chemical could also be breaking down into other toxic materials that have yet to be fully identified.
Scott Simonton, a Marshall University environmental engineer, told a legislative committee on Wednesday he had found cancer-causing formaldehyde -- which he said is one possible breakdown product from the spill -- in one local water sample and that the continued lack of data on the chemicals that leaked into the Elk River is very concerning.
"It's frightening, it really is frightening," said Simonton, who is a member of the state Environmental Quality Board and also consults with at least one local law firm that's filed suit over the spill. "What we know scares us, and we know there's a lot more we don't know."
State officials are, of course, denying that there are any lingering problems, issuing a statement vehemently denying everything.
The statement said that formaldehyde is created through the normal breakdown cycle of plants and animals, dissolves easily in water, and does not last a long time in water.
"Additionally, formaldehyde is naturally produced in very small amounts in our bodies as part of our normal, everyday metabolism and causes no harm," the statement said. "It can also be found in the air that we breathe at home and at work, in the food we eat, and in some products that we put on our skin."
The statement complained that, "We are unaware of the specifics of how this study [by Simonton] was conducted, including sampling procedures, protocol and methodology, and would also be interested in the possibility of some other issue affecting the testing of water at the establishment indicated."
I'd stick with the bottled water, West Virginia.